Natural ingredients always held a special place in skincare. Since ancient times, people used various natural plant and tree extracts, leaves, flowers and barks due to their cosmetic and medicinal effects in different skin care products and as a medicine. The willow bark is one such natural ingredient that is known to hold ‘miracle healing powers’ and has been used for more than thousands of years. White willow was used by early Egyptians to for treating pain and inflammation . Native American healers used willow bark extract due to its analgesic properties .
Willow bark is also known to be an “aspirin of nature” because it has the precursor of aspirin which gives same health benefits as that of aspirin. Recent studies have shown that willow bark has something remarkable which actually helps in soothing, smoothing and firming skin giving it a naturally youthful appearance . It actually holds a special place in facial rejuvenation treatments.
What is a Willow Bark?
The well-known willow tree is most commonly found in North America, Central Asia and Europe. It belongs to the family of Salicaceae and genus Salix. The Black Willow tree is popular for its dark brown coloured bark that is rich in tannins and salicylic acid-like substances. The extract of the bark is said to hold powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic, antipyretic, and astringent properties.
The willow bark extract is a rich natural source of ingredients similar to that of salicylic acid which has same effects as that of synthetically manufactured salicylic acid but with no
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drawbacks that are related to its usage such as skin irritation. Therefore, the use of natural willow bark in skin peels London treatment is a natural and safe source of getting the benefits of natural beta hydroxy acid.
Chemical composition of Willow Bark extract ,
• Glycosides (1.5-11%): salicylates (salicin, salicortin, populin, fragilin, tremulacin)
• Tannins (8-20%)
• Aromatic aldehydes and acids: salidroside, vanillin, syringin, salicylic acid, caffeic and
• ferulic acids
• Salicyl alcohol (saligenin)
What benefits the Willow Bark holds for the skin?
It is used as an exfoliant in skin peel facial rejuvenation treatment to remove the dead skin cells and clear clogged pores. It can also stimulate the formation of new skin cells. The willow bark also has ‘phenolic acids’ including salicin, flavonoids, salicortin, fragilin, populin, triandrin and vimalin as well as tannins (gallotannins and catechin-type tannins) and minerals which play an important role in skin rejuvenation. Due to its anti-microbial properties, it can be beneficial for the problematic skin conditions.
As salicylic acid is lipid soluble, its exfoliating action is focused on the lipid-rich outer skin layers where the natural skin exfoliation rate reduces due to ageing process. It helps in reducing the build-up of dry, dead and damaged skin flakes on the surface. The willow bark extract is non-irritating to the skin even at the concentration of 100% which is equivalent to the use of 10% synthetic salicylic acid concentration. It has also been found to stimulate the turnover of stratum corneum more than that of synthetic salicylic acid .
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Tsai, J. etal, Distribution of salicylic acid in human stratum corneum following topical application in vivo: a comparison of six different formulations. Int J Pharm 1999 Oct 25; 188(2): 145-153.
1. Exfoliating qualities: Willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid which helps to fight against acne and is a natural skin exfoliant which removes accumulated a layer of dead and damaged skin cells and exposing fresh, new and healthy skin.
2. Anti-ageing: The willow bark can help to increase the blood flow towards skin while reducing the appearance of lines, wrinkles and age spots. Results of the research study conducted to evaluate the effects of topical salicin-containing ingredients on the human ageing showed that it visibly helped in reducing the signs of skin ageing. The researchers used a serum having 0.5% of salicin on the women of age 35-70 every day for 12 weeks. The results of the study showed a visible improvement in wrinkles, fine lines, the size of pores and overall facial appearance in just 1 week.
3. Astringent and anti-inflammatory: the presence of tannins and flavonoids in willow bark gives it astringent properties. These are a rich source of anti-oxidants that are similar to that of green tea extract and help to protect skin against environmental stressors. It helps to tone and reduce skin inflammation which makes it an effective remedy for reducing skin redness and irritation.
The in-vitro studies have shown that anti-inflammatory function of willow bark extract is related to the downregulation of tumour necrosis factor-α and nuclear factor-kappa B of inflammatory mediators. Although the willow bark extract is generally considered a salicin, other components of the extract which include salicylates, polyphenols, and flavonoids may also play a significant role in its therapeutic function .
4. Improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles: the exfoliating action of willow bark extract unclog pores and remove dull, dry and aged skin which helps in improving the appearance of lines and wrinkles resulting in smoother, softer and fresh looking skin .
5. Soothes acne: the acne-fighting benefits of willow bark are mainly due to the presence of salicylic acid, a BHA which is used in numerous acne treatments. It helps in shedding off the dead skin cells while unclogging blocked skin pores and clearing the dirt, sebum and debris from deep inside the pores. The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities of willow bark extract may help in soothing an acne-ravaged skin whereas the astringent properties soften and loose the dry, dull and scaly skin so that it easily falls off. Due to these qualities and presence of phenolic acids which include salicin, salicortin, flavonoids, tannins, and minerals, it is used in skin peel treatment at CosmeDocs.
Remona Gopaul, MS, Helen E Knaggs, PhD, Janet F Lephart, MS, Kara C Holley, MS,& Erica M Gibson, BS. An evaluation of the effect of a topical product containing salicin on the visible signs of human skin aging. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2010, 196–201 (https://www.nuskin.com/content/dam/ageloc/microsite/PDFs/JCD%20Salicin%20Clinical%20Abstract.pdf)
R. Gopaul, et al., “Salicin regulates the expression of functional ‘youth gene clusters’ to reflect a more youthful gene expression profile,” International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2011; 33(5):416-420,
a. Clinical study results showed that it is effective to treat mild to moderate acne with the use of non-prescription ingredients such as salicylic acid . It helps to reduce several primary acne lesions resulting in reducing the severity of other acne-related skin lesions. Salicylic acid has been found to be superior to benzoyl peroxide in the reduction of acne.
6. Effective for skin cleansing and balancing: Willow bark extract is a useful skin cleanser and toner as it effectively controls the production of sebum, cleanses skin, removes dirt and dead skin cells and unclogs pores.
7. The use of Willow bark in Skin peel treatment
As mentioned above, willow bark possesses multiple skin benefits which make it an excellent choice for treating various skin issues. At CosmeDocs-Skin peel Clinic, willow bark extract is used in skin peel facial rejuvenation treatment which is effective for almost all skin types. Combined with other natural and powerful skin rejuvenating ingredients, willow bark extract has an enhanced effect for skin, giving it a fresh and youthful glow and radiance.
Willow bark extract is a beneficial natural extract for almost all skin types and including it in your daily skin care regime will have a positive effect on your skin health and appearance. Dry skin type can benefit from its skin exfoliating properties while oily skin types can reap the benefits of its oil control and astringent qualities. Despite this, it is quite gentle to be used on the sensitive skin types. So are you going to make willow bark extract as a part of your skincare regime?